We are big sun-protection nerds here, and we know that sun protection is confusing at best. It’s not as simple as smearing on some Coppertone and hoping for the best anymore. A lot of alleged sun-protection products are far from effective and in some cases are doing much more harm than good. It requires so much attention to pick the right one, decide how long to be exposed, when to reapply, worry if we are poisoning ourselves or the ocean and so forth.
In Portugal we discovered this genius solution: SOLEIL, which is essentially a sun care concierge. The cost for a day of someone taking care of all your sun care needs is less than a pool side Mai Tai. How great is it not to worry about one’s sun exposure, just off load the entire thing to someone else and be secure that you are doing the right thing? It’s incredible to me that no one else has come up with this yet.
To better understand what SOLEIL is and how the business is set up, we reached out to Nichlos, the charming founder for more information.
Useful, Informative, Sustainable
Why did you start the company?
Kevin, Theodric and I are the 3 co-founders of SOLEIL. We have been traveling quite a lot since we were young and we had the chance to visit quite a few high-end places in the world. Four years ago, as Kevin was in a 5-star hotel in Dubai, he realized that every single detail was taken care of in this place, the staff was very attentive, but it was extremely hot and sunny and he realized at this time that no assistance was provided in regards to sun protection.
We met later on this day and the idea of creating a service dedicated to this important need, that is essential for everyone, came up. We were already familiar at this time with the importance of sun protection, but only knew the basics of it. As we started our research, we realized that sun protection is a major concern and that was what we would dedicate the years to come for. This was nearly four years ago. From this time onwards, the three of us have focused on building a service that could be useful, informative and sustainable.
Naming our idea SOLEIL came up naturally in reference to our french origins. Our goal is to be able to share our profits with an NGO and, on the long term, be able to create our own.
Chemical vs Mineral Sunscreen
What is different about the formulations you use?
The sunscreen market offers two categories of products: the chemical products and the mineral products.
When we began our research, we noticed the impact that chemical sun care products had over the marine life, whitening the coral reef and contributing to the extinction of certain species. Being environmentally conscious in our daily life, it became a priority for us to choose the best products possible to match with our values and beliefs. The products that we use are exclusively mineral, organic-certified products. There are plenty difference between mineral and chemical products besides the fact the latter are harmful for the environment. Whereas chemical products are effective only 30 minutes after their application, mineral products are effective immediately.
Chemical products penetrate into the skin and absorb the UV rays, increasing the risks of allergic reactions, where mineral products remain on the skin, acting as a layer shield for the skin and reflecting the UV rays.
Of course, no product is perfect and no sun care product, chemical or mineral, protects 100% against UV rays. Therefore, choosing a mineral sunscreen only because it is mineral was not what we wanted. Indeed, some mineral sun care products come with doubtful effects such as leaving a white, unaesthetic layer over the skin or using nanoparticles in their composition.
To choose the three brands that we are working with, we have done hundreds of tests, tried most of the sunscreen products available on the market to choose the best ones, guaranteeing that they are labelled and certified organic following the strictest regulations, ensuring that they do not leave white marks and do not have any nanoparticles or any doubtful elements in they composition.
How do you personalize the products for each customer?
To clarify, when we are talking about personalization, that does not mean that we mix or create any product. We have an exhaustive collection of products made of different SPFs but also textures or fragrances enabling us to answer to everyone’s needs and specifics.
Following our guests’ wishes, expectations, and taking into consideration their skin types and specifics, we are able to recommend and deliver the most suitable product from our collection.
We wanted to go a step forward and propose products for each particular part of the body. Having said that, we propose products for the body but as well for the face and the lips which have different characteristics. We also have products to protect scars and other skin imperfections. To offer a complete service, we have a full selection of after-sun products, based on the same concept which is answering to everyone’s preferences, made of different textures and fragrances.
Advice is Essential
Why did you decide on a service model in addition to selling the products?
Indeed, we could have decided to simply display our products in a corner of the hotel and sell them to their guests. However, we wanted to go beyond, to create a service that could be not only exclusive, but useful and informative. When we created SOLEIL, we did market research finding out that no similar service was offered. What we found out is that some hotels, essentially in the US, are using machines to offer sun protection to their guests.
Basically, the guest inserts a coin in the machine, enters it and is sprayed. This concept has the same goal we have which is protecting people from the negative effects of UV rays. However it is done in a completely different way, at the opposite of what we believed since no information or advice is provided.
It was important for us to be in contact with people, to advise, recommend and inform if necessary. We are truly a sun protection service, and not a tanning service, therefore the advisory part of our service is essential. We accompany the guest during all their exposure to the sun, whether they are using the swimming pool, the beach or going on an outing.
Where do you anticipate SOLEIL being available in the future?
Launching SOLEIL in Portugal was a real choice, not only because we have roots here, but Portugal is among the sunniest countries in Europe and tourism is developing exponentially. But Portugal was a first step for us, and we plan to develop SOLEIL in countries were people in general, and tourists in particular, are exposed to the sun all year round.
For now, they are only available at Quinta da Comporta, but we expect them to be more widely available next summer.